Just wanted to give a little more encouragement to all the Dads out there. All men, of course, but a little extra to minority men. My DH is a naturalized US citizen from a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean country, who gained custody of his children. He was up against the mother, his ex, a white woman from a good family. I want to elaborate on the tips from akduncan13, and share what we did in our case.
To begin with, DH and his ex had a 50/50 agreement. She was awarded child support in an excessive amount, because she grossly inflated DH’s income and DH’s first attorney did not object.
- We kept records of most everything. Not phone calls, but overnights, when she would drop the kids and run out of state or party. The fact that she stopped taking kids to the doctors, and DH had to get the kids caught up on immunizations (she was the SAHM, he was the one who worked… so he was unaware for a few years that she didn’t have them up to date). School, teachers meetings, etc. The school agenda was great for showing homework was not being done on her time. Also, we kept records of her outings, things she did for herself (easy to do because she was very visible online), while neglecting the kids. Emails, text message, GOOGLE VOICE IS AWESOME and FREE.
Ex’s new husband tried to use a voice recording (after provoking us) in court, and it messed them up.
DH went with a female attorney and ended up getting screwed in the beginning. She was so horrible that the firm refunded DH his retainer. DH found a decent male attorney (no background check, went with him out of desperation honestly) willing to take his case. DH and I did most of the legwork, DHAtty came up with the courtroom strategies.
DH didn’t overdo it with the pictures. He showed pics of the kids, pics of the house, rooms in the house, but didn’t over do it. His ex had tons of pictures, a good part of them staged (kids with Chick fil A cups in the forefront, standing in front of a mall sign, etc). DH’s pics of the kids were mostly at home, playing in their environment, in the snow, normal and natural.
DH did not get emotional until the ruling. He stayed ‘matter of fact’ as much as possible, except for the times when the judge had to shut him up a couple of times for showing frustration of the situation on the stand.
DH dressed nice, but didn’t do a suit and tie.
DH’s ex brought a lot of people. DH brought me and another witness.
While we are not Christian, it is helpful to pray, have good thoughts, something to focus on to keep your mind straight. Good vibes, prayer, never hurt anyone!
We didn’t have to mudsling. DH and his attorney stated the facts, supported by evidence. If there was not evidence, it was not brought to the judge’s attention. However, if you have evidence or a credible witness, then by all means, tell the court how the other parent drugs the kids so she can party, or how she sleeps around with many people in the living room when the kids are in bed, or how she chooses to go out of state on a personal vacation rather than pay the gas bill! It’s not mudslinging. It’s looking out for your child.
In DH’s case, the mother didn’t want to take the kids to get updated on immunizations, but she refused to give DH the medicaid cards.
The kids would kick, scream, hide in cabinets, and cry and cry and cry when it was time to go to mamas… and we even had it recorded. But we didn’t use it in court. I don’t know why. We did say, and it was included in the Findings of Fact (so we did have supporting evidence somewhere) that the kids did not want to go to their mothers.
The mother rescheduled a surgery for her 4 year old son because an internet outing came up. Lucky for us, her pics were up on this website from the meeting for that date.
It DID help that the mother buried herself. She never said adamantly that she wanted the kids. When the judge asked what she wanted, she said “Umm, I guess if someone HAD to have custody, I’d want it to be me I guess, but I really want 50/50.” Judge saw through it, after seeing all the evidence presented, she knew the mother wanted her child support and her free time too.
In the beginning, the mother tried to use DH’s country of birth, religion, and whatever she could against him. She said he was controlling and abusive. Nothing could be further from the truth. As long as you state the facts, do not get overly defensive, do not be intimidated by accusations. Judges see it every day.